Normally a babbling brook, Cache Creek in British Columbia’s Interior has become a raging river, with floodwaters flowing right through the community’s firehall, the mayor said.
John Ranta said water levels are the highest he’s ever seen in the village located about 80 kilometres west of Kamloops.
“With the amount of water coming down, it’s hard to describe, but putting a few sandbags up is not going to save anything,” he said in an interview.
“The water is going to go where the water wants to go.”
The flooding is worst in the village of Cache Creek, but other areas in the province are also on high alert.
B.C.’s River Forecast Centre has issued two flood warnings, its highest-level bulletin, while several lower-level flood watches and high streamflow advisories covered much of the province’s northern, central and southern Interior on Wednesday.
Snow at higher elevations is melting quickly, and with warm weather and rain in the forecast this week, Ranta said the flooding in Cache Creek may get even worse.
One of the homes under an evacuation order is likely lost after the river flowed through the property, he said, while other properties are subject to an evacuation alert.
“The river debris, rocks and mud and whatnot, has piled up to the level of the windows of the house, so I’m sure (it’s) soaking wet inside and probably a writeoff.”
A post on the Village of Cache Creek Facebook page said 13 properties had been evacuated by Wednesday afternoon.
Stretches of highways 1 and 97 have been closed in both directions, and Ranta said water has inundated the two routes as they intersect in Cache Creek.
The mayor urged residents to stay away from fast-flowing floodwaters and encouraged people to do their best to get through the disaster.
“We’ll get back on our feet in the near future,” he said.
The village is operating an emergency centre at the community hall and that’s where people should go if they need to leave their homes, Ranta said.
The River Forecast Centre has issued a flood warning for the Thompson region that encompasses communities including Cache Creek, Lytton and Merritt.
A flood warning was also in effect for Whiteman Creek as it flows into Okanagan Lake, where the Okanagan Indian Band has issued an evacuation order for several properties in the Parker Cove neighbourhood, west of Vernon.
Reached by phone on Wednesday, Parker Cove resident Gordon Best said his home is far enough away that he’s not worried about flooding, but he’s never seen the waters of Whiteman Creek swell so much in his 15 years of living there.
He said part of a road has been washed out and people are using sandbags and other barriers in an effort to keep the floodwaters at bay.
“The creek’s been high before, but not like this,” Best said Wednesday.
“It’s quite extraordinary.”
The provincial government said in a statement it is helping communities prepare for flooding and a stockpile of sandbags is being deployed to communities that need them.
Areas at risk of moderate flooding are expected to expand, especially in the central Interior and Okanagan until Friday, it said.
“Into the weekend, significant flood hazard is expected throughout small- and medium-sized watersheds in the Central Interior, Okanagan, Boundary and Southern Kootenays.”
The hot weather is expected to ease by Friday when heavy rain and possible thundershowers move in for the weekend in B.C.’s Interior, the statement said.
Lower-level flood watches covered the Okanagan, Boundary and Kootenay regions along with areas surrounding the Salmon River between Salmon Arm and Vernon.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has activated several sandbag centres for residents and businesses that need to protect their property.
A flood watch was also in effect for the middle Fraser River plateau, including areas around Quesnel and Williams Lake.
The forecast centre has said snowmelt is increasing, especially in mid-elevation areas, and rain is expected to follow warm, sunny conditions later this week.
In the north, high streamflow advisories were in effect for the Williston region as well as areas surrounding Prince George.
—Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press